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HindustanTimes Mon,24 Nov 2014

Congress pressure group favours backing Third Front

Aurangzeb Naqshbandi, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 15, 2014
First Published: 00:52 IST(15/5/2014) | Last Updated: 00:57 IST(15/5/2014)

Days after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi ruled out any support to the Third Front, there seems to be a rethink on the issue in the party.

Congress sources admitted that the priority of the party leadership is to stop the BJP from coming to power and Narendra Modi from becoming the next Prime Minister.

For that, a pressure group within the party has kept a Plan B ready. It is keen on either forming the government with the support of regional parties or propping up a Third Front.

“But such a scenario is possible only if the NDA gets 230 seats and we get 130,” a party strategist said. “The possibility of all secular and like-minded parties joining hands against the communal forces cannot be ruled out.”

The party’s internal assessment suggests that it will get 130 seats and the key to formation of the next government will remain with regional forces.

Rahul is said to be in favour of sitting in the opposition if the Congress doesn’t get enough numbers to form the government and focus on rebuilding the organisation. But the pressure group, comprising mainly old-timers, might eventually succeed in persuading him to change his stand.

Explaining why Rahul has refused to support a Third Front, another senior functionary said his approval for such a move in the midst of the campaigning would have been “equal to accepting defeat”.

“That would also have demoralised the cadre as some phases of polling were still left to be held,” he said.

A vast section of the party agreed with finance minister P Chidambaram’s view that the political scenario in 2014 is completely different from that in 1989, when Rajiv Gandhi chose to sit in the opposition despite the Congress getting around 190 seats.

Congress managers argue that the leadership had pitched the 2014 elections as a battle between secular and communal ideologies and that the party would “try its best” to stop Modi from becoming the Prime Minister.

But a counter-argument forwarded by another section is that the party should sit in the opposition and focus on long-term rebuilding of the party.

“The organisation does not exist in big states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. We need to strengthen our support base as revival in these states would automatically give us more seats in any election,” a senior leader said.

The leaders belonging to this section also want the Congress to give up its dependence on allies and once again pursue the “go it alone” policy. Their argument is that the Congress “bore the brunt of public wrath for wrongdoings” of its allies in the two terms of the UPA government, apparently alluding to the alleged involvement of some DMK leaders in the 2G spectrum allocation scam.


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